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Philosophy as a business

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RayAndré

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Hey Fastlane fam,

I’m throwing this out there to see what bites and if anything snags my attention.

I realize I like to think a lot and figure things out. Like, a lot. And most recently I’ve been doing this with life and the human psyche.

What kind of business can you start with philosophy? What can you sell?

Do I become the next Mark Manson? Blogging and writing a book? Do I start a podcast, a Youtube channel?

Is the main approach: “start publishing content and hope that people like it”? And that’s when you can make money from book sales or speaking gigs?

Before that is it all just selling ads on a blog or podcast? This income would be near zero I’m sure. (Maybe I’m wrong?)
Would initial income come from my own info products? Books/courses/guides/whatever?

I think it’d be cool to be a cross between Mark Manson, Jordan Peterson, Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss.
(Probably mostly Peterson and Robbins.)

Mark got started with dating coaching and his book Models.
Jordan got started as a professor making controversial YT videos.
Tony got started with miracle healing on TV.
Not sure how Tim got started...

Anyway, I’m curious to ideas of the group :)

Cheers
 

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Tom H.

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Tim got started drop shipping supplements.

I would not start a business based around philosophy. Do something productive instead.

If you're solution to life is really effective at solving people's most core issues, then you are better off just giving it away for free, to those who can understand it.
 

Andy Black

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Hey Fastlane fam,

I’m throwing this out there to see what bites and if anything snags my attention.

I realize I like to think a lot and figure things out. Like, a lot. And most recently I’ve been doing this with life and the human psyche.

What kind of business can you start with philosophy? What can you sell?

Do I become the next Mark Manson? Blogging and writing a book? Do I start a podcast, a Youtube channel?

Is the main approach: “start publishing content and hope that people like it”? And that’s when you can make money from book sales or speaking gigs?

Before that is it all just selling ads on a blog or podcast? This income would be near zero I’m sure. (Maybe I’m wrong?)
Would initial income come from my own info products? Books/courses/guides/whatever?

I think it’d be cool to be a cross between Mark Manson, Jordan Peterson, Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss.
(Probably mostly Peterson and Robbins.)

Mark got started with dating coaching and his book Models.
Jordan got started as a professor making controversial YT videos.
Tony got started with miracle healing on TV.
Not sure how Tim got started...

Anyway, I’m curious to ideas of the group :)

Cheers
What do people buy that indicates they’d buy what you’re thinking of selling?
 

SamRussell

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Your ideas all work. There are a few philosophers who have paid discussion groups - for example Harry Binswanger.

Another option is starting a printed journal - this is a lot harder to do, but has also been done. The Objectivist Standard is a good example of this.

It sounds like you're more interested in self-help from your examples...
 

rollerskates

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What do you mean by philosophy? Or do you really mean self help? Have you studied philosophy? Eastern? Western? Sun Tzu? Confucius? Aristotle? Plato? What are your qualifications? If you are wondering if there is a profitable niche in getting people to think, then maybe? There is definitely a huge need for people to think more deeply and more critically. The problem with it is convincing people they need to think better. It's one thing to convince people they need, say, a germ key, but it's an entirely different kettle of fish to convince people they suck at reasoning, even though most people do. It's a HUGE societal problem.

This is something I think about a lot but not something I've put any work into. Overall, I give it a maybe.
 

MJJones

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Depending on the philosophy and its appeal and audience size, I think you could potentially quickly start a coaching business around it. As for how to start, I think your idea of online content creation would be a good way of accumulating leads (building your list from day one!), gauging interest, building a reputation, and allow for different channels of distribution and testing. So yeah, start small and simple, but don't create something that's going to limit the outcome.

I'd also recommend creating some kind of merch around it as soon as you're able, something that is relevant to whatever the philosophy is. As someone else mentioned, I'd look at what Ryan Holiday is doing with Daily Stoic and seeing what you could do better. Me personally, I don't like Ryan Holiday's merch. From a business standpoint, I think he's missed the "word-of-mouth" merch, like coffee mugs or bags or t-shirts or the like, e.g. he doesn't have anything on his store for fans that would love to have that opportunity to talk to others about his books or Stoicism. Also, as someone who's a fan of stoicism, I would never buy his stuff because it doesn't reflect the philosophy for me. One of his top products is a coin that says "Memento Mori". Sorry, but this doesn't work for me. I'm not going to carry some coin in my pocket to remind myself of my mortality. That means I have to keep checking my pockets to remind myself. Instead, I wear a red bracelet around my wrist and do a negative visualization that I'm bleeding out. Morbid. I know. But far more effective at maintaining this philosophy and doing the hard things when you can visualize time running out.
 
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Black_Dragon43

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Mark Manson, Jordan Peterson, Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss
Apart from maybe Jordan Peterson, I wouldn't count any of these as "philosophy". Self-help for sure, but they're not philosophers in the proper sense. If you're interested to build a business in this niche, you must be careful in defining what exactly you mean by philosophy, who your main audience is, and what problem you're helping them resolve.

Speaking about more academic and traditional branches of philosophy, in my experience people fall largely in two groups:
• Those who look at philosophy as something that enables you to pose new questions and think about issues in new and creative ways. They look less at philosophy as a place for answers, but rather as a place where we learn to ask better questions. A lot of postmodernists & modernists as well look at philosophy this way. Elon Musk seems to hold a view similar to this as well (remember him quoting the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about the meaning of life being 42, and the nugget of wisdom there being that we need to learn to ask better questions).
• Those who look at philosophy as a way to get to the Truth. These people approach the subject let's say with a quasi-religious approach. For them, asking better questions isn't the main point, but getting answers to the questions of life, including how to live, is there a God, etc.

A business in either of these two niches would be very very difficult to start imo. The audience in both cases loves hard, intellectual rigor, the kind of rigor to which most of the population is unable to follow. Try reading Hegel, or Kant, or Heidegger. That's the kind of writing that will appeal, which is a very narrow appeal.

Now, if instead of philosophy, you're thinking more along the lines of personal transformation and self-help, then those are perennial markets that will always have a lot of people throwing money at it. Tony, Mark, Tim, Tolle, MJ, etc. are all in this market in one way or another. None of these guys are even close to being philosophers (maybe you could make an argument about Tolle).
 

S.Y.

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Philosophy is much more than loving to think and figuring things out.

Before even starting to think business and selling, what do you mean by philosophy? What is your take?

Of all the people that are named here, JP is probably the only real philosopher. And he is a psychologist. This tends to be overlooked.

Manson is not a philosopher. Tony is not. And Tim absolutely not.

Ryan Holiday is regurgitating Stoicism - making it more appealing to the mass. In that sense he is more an amplifier of philosophy than a pure philosopher.

So I see two paths:

1. Building a business around you being a philosopher - à la JP and Sam Harris to a certain extent.

2. Creating something linked to philosophy like Ryan Holiday.

For (1) I would not even think about the business for now. I would suggest that you refine your philosophy and put it out. Podcasts, YouTube, blogs, books, etc...

For (2), books work well here. Ryan Holiday Daily stoic store is another avenue (have couple of coins from there). Apps, online courses... There are couple of very good YouTube channels pulling up 500k+ views per video. You have many options.

I like philosophy. I mainly buy books. Mainly the ancients. Most of the new philosophical stuffs have been cover on depth thousands of years ago.

BUT am loving more and more little physical reminders to "live" life everyday. Things like medallions, coins, stickers, bookmarks, etc...
 

thechosen1

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You don’t start a “philosophy business.”

You start a business publishing, speaking, marketing, or making some kind of product or doing a service... and “philosophy” is the theme or the content.

I’m not a career or business coach but I think there are different categories of study here: “philosophy” is some kind of content, but “programming” is a profession. “Writing” is a profession.

it’s like math vs. engineering. Math is not useful until you use it to do something else. Think philosophically about it ;) you’ll know what to do
 

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Johnny boy

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Make creative YouTube videos that explore philosophical concepts and ideas. Make philosophy cool again.

Look up channels like

pursuit of wonder

school of life

Einzelganger



the money is in the eyeballs. Get people to watch your stuff and you’ve got 50,000 possible business opportunities. Many of which are fastlane businesses.
 

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